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On-line version ISSN 2304-8557
Print version ISSN 0023-270X

Koers (Online) vol.77 n.2 Pretoria  2012




Empowering and disempowering students in student-supervisor relationships


Bemagtiging en ontmagtiging van studente in die verhouding tussen student en studieleier



Salome Schulze

Department of Further Teacher Education, University of South Africa, South Africa





In South Africa, the issue of empowerment or disempowerment in student-supervisor relationships has not been adequately addressed. Research for this article therefore aimed at determining how students are empowered or disempowered in their relationships with their supervisors. The conceptual framework for the research comprised social constructivism, critical pedagogy and theory on the empowerment of students. In the phenomenological case study, 15 master's and doctoral students with 9 different supervisors from one college at the University of South Africa, and who had recently graduated, were purposefully selected for interviews. The findings of the study revealed that the students were not always empowered through sustained two-way communication in a supportive environment. In order to empower students, supervisory styles need to change from power-centred to facilitation-centred supervision. The study also showed that many supervisors found it difficult to adopt this style in a distance-education environment. The study is significant for generating a model that illustrates the interaction between various forces related to supervisory practices. Some recommendations for improvement were made.


Die kwessie van bemagtiging in die verhouding tussen student en studieleier is nog nie in Suid-Afrika deeglik ondersoek nie. Die studie waaroor hierdie artikel handel is dus daarop gemik om te bepaal hoe studente in hul verhoudings met hul studieleiers bemagtig of ontmagtig word. Die teoretiese raamwerk van die studie was sosiale konstruktivisme, kritiese pedagogie en teorieë oor die bemagtiging van studente. 'n Fenomenologiese gevallestudie-navorsingsontwerp is gebruik. Vyftien meesters- en doktorale studente met nege verskillende studieleiers van een kollege aan die Universiteit van Suid-Afrika, en wat onlangs gegradueer het, is doelgerig vir onderhoude geselekteer. Die bevindinge van die studie toon aan dat studente nie altyd deur volgehoue, tweerigting-kommunikasie in 'n ondersteunende omgewing bemagtig is nie. Om studente te bemagtig, moet supervisiestyle van maggesentreerde na fasiliterende supervisie verander. Die studie het ook aangetoon dat baie studieleiers dit moeilik gevind het om hierdie styl in 'n afstandsonderrigkonteks te aanvaar. Die studie is belangrik omdat dit 'n model genereer wat die interaksie van verskeie invloede op die supervisieverhouding illustreer. Aanbevelings vir verbetering is ook gemaak.



Full text available only in PDF format.



Competing interests

The author declares that she has no financial or personal relationships which may have inappropriately influenced her in writing this article.



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Salome Schulze
PO Box 392
Pretoria 0003
South Africa

Received: 31 Oct. 2011
Accepted: 13 June 2012
Published: 13 Dec. 2012

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